Top Returning SEC Guards: #1 – John Petty Jr., Alabama

The coronavirus has kept things regarding college basketball up in the air, as many top players have gotten the opportunity to keep their names in the draft pool for longer, as the deadline to withdraw was extended into August. One such player in this pool is Alabama stat John Petty Jr. who, if he decides to return, would be, by our rankings, the top returning guard in the SEC. Teammate Kira Lewis is a projected mid-to-late first round pick right now and seems like an unlikely bet to return, while Petty, ranked the 53rd prospect by ESPN, seems at least a little more plausible. Given his chance to be the go-to-guy for the Tide next season, his draft stock could skyrocket into first-round value if he chooses to return. 

Last season, we were denied a SEC Tournament clash that would have pitted Tennessee, featuring our #2 guard Yves Pons, and Petty and his Bama teammates. Hopefully, both guards choose to return this season, giving up another chance at that star-studded match-up. Petty has been a regular for Alabama for three years now, but after two straight years averaging 10.2 points a contest, he bumped that up to 14.5 in his junior campaign, while also muscling down 6.6 rebounds and dishing out 2.5 assists a game. All three marks were top-three on the team, with his rebounding leading the squad. As a 6’5 guard playing in the highly physical SEC, that’s massively impressive in itself. 

However, although his rebounding gives the indication that Petty is a inside guard, he does much of his offensive damage with his lethal three-point shot, which he offered up with 44% accuracy last season. On the road, playing in some hostile SEC environments, Petty silenced crowds all season to the tune of 17.5 points per game on 49% long-range shooting. Petty featured that deadly shooting in an early season clash with UNC, undefeated and ranked #6 at the time. Despite the eventual loss in the Battle 4 Atlantis battle, Petty had the Tide within striking distance on 23 points obtained largely through his 7-10 effort from beyond the arc. In a following neutral site effort, Petty was electric, putting up 34 points and 12 rebounds in a monster performance against Iowa State, and with that, the underrated Alabama star was off and rolling. 

SEC play got underway, and Petty hardly slowed down. He notched four blocks to complement a 16-point, 7 rebound effort against Kentucky, a 23-point, 10-rebound against Vanderbilt, and a bevy of 20+ point efforts against Georgia (21), #11 Auburn (20), and Ole Miss (21). Shooting 51% from inside the arc and 44% from beyond it, Petty tortured opponents with deadly efficiency. If I’m the SEC – I’m hoping Petty stays in the draft because even if Alabama hasn’t been necessarily a threat in the SEC, the in-state Huntsville, Alabama product keeps the Tide in games they often have no business being in, presenting a massive threat to the traditional powers of the conference. For this reason, Petty is our #1 (potentially) returning guard in the SEC.